covid disinformation hate speech reddit

Reddit bans a subreddit known for its industrial-strength COVID misinformation. But it wasn’t banned for that.

Wednesday, Reddit banned a subreddit — r/NoNewNormal — infamous for spreading COVID misinformation.

The move came after 135 of Reddit’s subreddits, including some with literally millions of subscribers, “went dark,” basically pulling themselves offline until Reddit banned the NoNewNormal sub.

But according to Reddit admins, neither the protest nor the misinformation was the reason for the ban: in a statement that seemed almost designed to not fully satisfy anyone, Reddit explained that the key problem was the subreddit’s penchant for disrupting other subreddits with “brigades” of trolls.

While we want to be a place where people can explore unpopular views, it is never acceptable to interfere with other communities. … in this case, we found very clear signals indicating that r/NoNewNormal was the source of around 80 brigades in the last 30 days (largely directed at communities with more mainstream views on COVID or location-based communities that have been discussing COVID restrictions). This behavior continued even after a warning was issued from our team to the Mods. 

While Reddit clearly recognizes the dangers of COVID misinformation, particularly when it comes to, say, encouraging people to “treat” COVID with toxic horse paste, banning NoNewNormal for brigading seems a bit like convicting Al Capone for tax evasion.

Reddit also said that it had quarantined some 54 other subreddits, but didn’t spell out which ones, at least not in their statement. And r/conspiracy — home not only to COVID misinformation but also a great deal of outright hate — wasn’t even quarantined.

The reaction in the AgainstHateSubreddits subreddit was decidedly mixed. While some commenters posted celebratory dancing crab emojis, others suggested that “[e]ven when they do the right thing, they do it in the wrong way.” This seems always to be Reddit’s MO.

“Ah yes, banned for brigading,: No_Evil_Star wrote,

not for the casual hate speech conspiracy bullshit, and spreading misinformation with a notable body count. In light of [Reddit CEO] Steve Huffman’s cowardly statements before they finally dropped the hammer, their priorities are clear.

Reddit does not care about human life, marginalized or otherwise. They only give a shit about the sanctity and profitability of their platform.

This is the worst way to get good news.

Pretty much.

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19 replies on “Reddit bans a subreddit known for its industrial-strength COVID misinformation. But it wasn’t banned for that.”

They got Capone on tax evasion because that was the easiest to prove, and Capone needed to be gotten rid of somehow. This kind of thing might feel weird, but sometimes it’s the best option.

I have no idea what Reddit’s policy on misinformation is, or even if they have one, but brigading is bad enough that they probably deserve to be banned on that alone. It may be easier or more politically convenient to go with that one. Big companies are hesitant to ban large swaths of their userbase over “political views” (even if those views violate their Terms Of Use due to being blatantly hateful or dangerously misinformed), not just because of the profit motive, but also due to the potential lawsuits.

If it takes an unsatisfying but valid rationale to get rid of them, then so be it, as the getting rid of them is the important part.

Reddit has been a welcoming home to some of the worst people on the internet and allowed them to recruit, it’s long past time they clean up their act and prove that hate should never have a home.

So, what they’re saying is that it was the alt.tasteless of Reddit and it invaded one rec.pets.cats too many?

Also, concurring with Snowberry on pretty much everything she said.

I wonder when the first death from Texas’ new antiabortion law will happen. And will it take 25 years more than that to realize that killing the Savita Halappanavar’s of the world (or even just of Texas) is a bad thing? Or will it only take Texas a decade of killing women before they decide to give it up?

@Crip Dyke

It’s Texas. They’ll happily kill people for as long as Texas is red.

Rethugs don’t care about human life; those fuckers cheered when one of their Congress-vermin talked about people dying in the streets because they couldn’t afford medical care.

Fucking monsters, every last one.

@Crip Dyke:

Its kind of like a lot of them think like Dan Patrick – “there are more important things than living”

How is the state of Texas planning to fund their $10,000 bounty payments? No doubt they’ll be appropriating it from public education and welfare programs, to be redistributed straight into the pockets of self-appointed misogynist vigilantes.

Meanwhile, now that conservatives have been given the green light to violate rights and circumvent the Constitution so long as it’s being enforced by bounty hunters, the door is now wide open for carbon copies of this law in every red state.

It’s just layers upon layers of awful.

The best we can hope for is a glut of fake/spam nuisance reportings in Texas that tie up the system. First on the list should be every single GOP lawmakers’ wife and daughters.


Its kind of like a lot of them think like Dan Patrick – “there are more important things than living”

To be fair, that’s true. It’s that logic I would use to donate a kidney to a friend I matched to and ignore the risk of dying, etc.

Also I have no idea who Dan Patrick is and am afraid to Google so I may be using the quote in a different manner. I don’t believe that “controlling women for the sake of hypocritical theocratic evangelicals in a country that is supposed to have separation of church and state” is one of the things more important than living, especially since they are making the decision for other women not themselves.

@ buttercup

How is the state of Texas planning to fund their $10,000 bounty payments?

The person being sued has to pay.

They also have to pay the legal costs of the person suing them. However they can’t claim their own legal costs; even if the suit against them fails. It’s outrageous (As 4 out of 9 SCOTUS judges have just said). But it’s now the law.

I’ve been looking through that to see if there’s any way of turning the tables. As there’s no cost risk to the Plaintiff I’m wondering if people should just sue anti-abortion advocates, such as clinic protestors, on the grounds they are giving information that might encourage or assist someone to have a termination. For example, by identifying where there’s a clinic.

Oh, @Crip Dyke, there’s no limit on the length of time they’ll kill women who step out of the lines they draw. They’ll do it happily, and they’ll do it without a moment of hesitation. Maybe a touch of sorrow, for show. So saddened that it had to come to this, why couldn’t she have just been good.

I’m blisteringly angry today.

@Alan – Ah, that wasn’t clear to me. The news outlets are reporting it as a “bounty” offered by the state.

If the defendant has to pay, well… the defendants are, disproportionately, going to be lower-income women without means. Not exactly a goldmine there. Of course, they can sue everyone who’s even tangentially associated – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, clergy who may have provided counsel, Uber drivers – which is going to have dark implications for malpractice insurance and women’s ability to get good medical care. Which is exactly the intended effect.

The GOP wants Covid to have more reproductive rights than women.

Correction: The law exempts the woman who got the abortion from being sued, but anyone who aids, abets, or “intends” to aid or abet is fair game. People can be sued for up to 4 years afterwards.

That’s a very broad law. How do you prove or disprove intent?

On the Texas law, crossposting my latest comment from Pharyngula:

The legal details of this whole bizarre system seem (based on descriptions I’ve seen on social media) generally unclear and open to courtroom wrestling, which is undoubtedly very much by design.
After all, legal uncertainty combined with the threat of aggressive lawsuit harassment should be perfect for ensuring that any Texas abortion providers will not try to continue providing even very early abortions. Other major targets for vigilante harassment could be PP clinics and such that continue to provide non-abortion services, and anyone who might actually perform black market abortions. Harassment of anyone else under this law will be of secondary importance, and largely just collateral damage.

That’s a very broad law. How do you prove or disprove intent?

I doubt they care about the actual application of the law. They’re doing this to rile up their base, and that’s about as far as they’ve thought about it.

Or they’re just hoping that fear will be enough to stop anyone from helping a pregnant woman. Maybe the cruelty is the point.

The chilling effect of Texas’ new abortion law makes me glad I post under a pseudonym. But even with that protection, I’ve felt extremely reluctant to say a lot. Part of it is just because I’m heartsick over the whole thing.

I did have occasion to talk to a Planned Parenthood staffer yesterday, after the bad news broke, and I thanked the staffer for all the work PP does. It’s the least I could do.

@Big Titty Demon:

He was saying that in order to reopen the economy. Basically, he expects people to die of covid so he can continue to make money.


Yeah I would have to disagree with him on the value of that versus continued living.

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